As surprising as it may seem, marijuana can help people lose belly fat. In fact, there is evidence to support periodic cannabis use as a gateway to better eating habits, and an overall healthier lifestyle.
But how can this be? Most of us are quite familiar with the close relationship between doobies and munchies. Many of us can imagine the stereotypical “stoner”, smoking some weed, grabbing the biggest bag of potato chips they can find, lying back on their couch all evening, and watching their favourite stoner movies. But that’s just it. Notwithstanding the stereotypes, another consistent image in and around the culture, is that so many cannabis users are skinny (ironically, an image that is inconsistent with the stoner’s propensity for post-fatty feasts).
These stereotypes are mostly myths, but it does make one wonder how one can be both lean and a munchie-gobbling machine. Is there something about pot that might explain this odd phenomenon? Can the thing that possesses us to gorge on shitty food, ultimately be healthy for us and help us to lose weight? The answer is a resounding YES! According to a national survey review by Doctor Yann Le Strat and Bernard Le Foll, people who use marijuana had lower obesity rates than the rest of the survey subjects. More recent studies have confirmed this finding, and have restated the apparent connection between cannabis use and a generally lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Global obesity rates, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar are at an all-time high. These can all lead to a myriad of health issues, including fatty livers and diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women, and everyone is looking for a realistic weight-loss solution. So how can weed help people to live healthier lives?
Mashing the Munchie Myth
There is a reason people associate marijuana use with frequent snacking. Marijuana contains the chemical THC, which activates the parts of the brain that signify hunger and raise our libidos. In a given moment, a session of the joint chiefs could turn into a full-on junk-food free-for-all. But oddly, in the long-term, smoking pot actually lessens the appetite.
However, there is another chemical in weed, THCV, that acts as a hunger suppressant. It triggers the brain to feel satisfied. While the common response to using weed might be to get some snacks to munch on, people who use cannabis regularly will ultimately have fewer food cravings. This goes against general perceptions, but weed actually makes the brain crave food less.
These two chemicals seem to be working against one another. How can weed make someone both crave food and not crave food? It’s not that the chemicals work against each other, rather, they influence the body in waves. THC activates first, triggering the brain to want more food. This initial response comes quickly, and diminishes just as fast. Then, after the THC wears off, THCV suppresses food cravings long after the initial cannabis use. While smoking some weed may lead to some munchie moments, it ultimately helps users to cut back on unnecessary or habitual eating in the long run.
Marijuana and Metabolism
Another reason cannabis connoisseurs tend to have lower BMIs is that marijuana has been shown to raise the body’s metabolism. Cannabis users report feeling energized, active, and wanting to do something in the moment. Cannabis can cause the body to burn more energy, making it easier to stay active and lose fat. This is why so many of our pot-smoking friends are jammed with so much vim and vinegar.
Weed Lowers Stress and Reduces Boredom
People often forget that losing weight is more than just exercising and trying to eat less. Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to weight loss. The health benefits marijuana can provide have been shown to tackle some of the psychological triggers that can cause people to overeat. Smoking weed not only satisfies food cravings, it can assist in managing the triggers for extra eating.
In moderate doses, the THC in cannabis has been shown to help reduce stress levels. When the body gets stressed or feels anxious, it naturally seeks out emotional relief. Eating releases feel-good chemicals to the brain. Stress makes our bodies crave food to feel emotional relief.
Similar to stress, boredom has been linked to overeating as well. The body craves something fun to do, and snacking sure can be fun! We’re not saying pot is a cure for boredom, but there are studies that show marijuana can help alleviate boredom. This goes back to the feeling of satisfaction that marijuana triggers in the brain. By making the brain feel fulfilled, it will be less likely to look for food as a form of entertainment.
Cannabis and Getting Better Sleep
Sleep is more important than we realize to avoid over-eating. Our bodies know when to get hungry based on our circadian rhythms. Getting too little sleep or having irregular sleep patterns causes the body to crave food outside of the usual mealtimes. Plus, a poor sleep schedule leads to lower quality sleep. This causes general exhaustion and makes people less likely to “motivate”. And you guessed it, marijuana can help you sleep better.
Marijuana might not give you a bedtime reminder and tuck you in at night, but it can make it easier to form a regular sleep schedule. According to a study that recently appeared in an article in the Sleep Foundation medical journal, after one month of regular cannabis use, 65% of participants saw their sleep improve. They not only had an easier time falling asleep, they experienced a higher quality of sleep. Imagine how much easier it would be to follow an exercise routine and stay active if you were to wake up feeling refreshed each morning.
Some Realistic Expectations
Let’s pull back for a moment and clarify that cannabis isn’t a miracle drug. Well, it is, but not in terms of weight loss. No one is going to immediately lose body fat after they smoke or consume some edibles. Marijuana itself doesn’t melt the fat away. Rather, it can help people form healthy habits (while breaking some bad ones). Marijuana can help to prevent overeating, helps you to get a better sleep, and encourages you to stay active. With numerous health benefits that stem from marijuana use, it might be a solution worth trying for yourself. 😉
By the Potmaster General, for Potsmart